Slavery in the colonial United States

The origins of slavery in the colonial United States are complex and there are several theories that have been proposed to explain the trade. It was largely tied to European colonies' need for labor, especially plantation agricultural labor in their Caribbean sugar colonies operated by Great Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands.

Most slaves that went to the Thirteen Colonies that became the United States were imported from the Caribbean, not directly from Africa. They arrived in the Caribbean predominately as a result of the Atlantic slave trade. Although slavery of indigenous peoples also occurred in the North American colonies, by comparison it was less important. Thereafter, slave status for Africans usually became hereditary.

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